How is relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) (RRMS) characterized?

Updated: Oct 08, 2019
  • Author: Christopher Luzzio, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
  • Print
Answer

RRMS is characterized by recurrent attacks in which neurologic deficits appear in different parts of the nervous system and resolve completely or almost completely over a short period of time, leaving little residual deficit. Patients with a relapsing-remitting pattern account for approximately 85% of MS cases (see the images below).

MRI of the head of a 35-year-old man with relapsin MRI of the head of a 35-year-old man with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. MRI reveals multiple lesions with high T2 signal intensity and one large white matter lesion. These demyelinating lesions may sometimes mimic brain tumors because of the associated edema and inflammation.
MRI of the head of a 35-year-old man with relapsin MRI of the head of a 35-year-old man with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. This MRI, performed 3 months after the one in the related image, shows a dramatic decrease in the size of lesions.

Two subgroups sometimes included in RRMS are clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and benign MS. CIS consists of a single episode of neurologic symptoms; it is sometimes labeled possible MS. In benign MS, patients have almost complete remission between relapses, and even 15–20 years after diagnosis they have little if any accumulation of physical disability. Making a diagnosis of benign MS too early during the course of the disease is discouraged, since MS can worsen, sometimes drastically, in patients with a history of mild manifestations at onset.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!